It’s not a Joni Mitchell/Jimi Hendrix collaboration, per se, but the next best thing, or at least the next oddest thing: A recording of a 1968 Mitchell concert that the legendary guitarist captured from a front row seat has been discovered after decades of being considered lost. And it’s among the unreleased material that’s been rounded up for her next boxed set, “Joni Mitchell Archives Vol. 2: The Reprise Years (1968-1971),” coming in October.
“The Dawntreader,” a track from the Hendrix-recorded set, was released Wednesday to preview the collection.
The five-CD or 10-LP set also includes a complete rendering of Mitchell’s 1969 Carnegie Hall debut, held shortly before she released her second album, “Clouds”; a live 1970 show from London originally broadcast over the BBC; previously unreleased compositions like “Jesus,” captured in a Chelsea apartment in ’69; and alternate takes from the “Ladies of the Canyon” and “Blue” sessions with extra orchestration or instrumentation that was abandoned for the final release versions.
But the biggest curio by far is the Hendrix recording of her March 19, 1968 show at the Le Hibou Coffee House in Ottawa, Ontario, Canada — 22 tracks in all from both sets Mitchell performed that night.
As with the previous boxed set in the series, Mitchell sat for a liner-notes interview with filmmaker/journalist Cameron Crowe, in which she explained the circumstances of how Hendrix came to be an unlikely recording engineer for that occasion.
“They came and told me, ‘Jimi Hendrix is here, and he’s at the front door.’ I went to meet him,” she told Crowe. “He had a large box. He said to me, ‘My name is Jimi Hendrix. I’m on the same label as you. Reprise Records.’ We were both signed about the same time. He said, ‘I’d like to record your show. Do you mind?’ I said, ‘no, not at all.’ There was a large reel-to-reel tape recorder in the box.”
She continued, “The stage was only about a foot off the ground. He knelt at edge of the stage, with a microphone, at my feet. All during the show, he kept twisting knobs. He was engineering it, I don’t know what he was controlling, volume? He was watching the needles or something, messing with knobs. He beautifully recorded this tape. Of course I played part of the show to him. He was right below me.”
Hendrix had done his own show earlier in the evening a few blocks away. His fascination with the 24-year-old up-and-comer was noted in his diary: “fantastic girl with heaven words.”
The complete track list for the Oct. 29 release: